Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 11°C

Norfolk Business Awards 2018

East of England Co-op’s security business picking up a growing number of clients

PUBLISHED: 11:30 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:21 29 August 2018

Lee Hammond and the Co-op Secure Response fleet    Picture: Anglia Picture Agency

Lee Hammond and the Co-op Secure Response fleet Picture: Anglia Picture Agency

Anglia Picture Agency

Co-op Secure Response has already more than doubled its turnover for the whole of last year.

Inside the ARCInside the ARC

Within the corridors of the East of England Co-op’s head office at Wherstead Park near Ipswich, there’s a reinforced steel door.

Open it and you’ll find another steel door, behind which is located the company’s Alarm Receiving Centre - the ARC for short.

Here, staff work on multiple computer screens - logging calls, monitoring CCTV cameras and providing security support for the business’ 100-plus food stores across the region as well as its other offices and outlets.

According to Lee Hammond - head of the Co-Op Secure Response unit - the incidents being reported on incoming calls might differ in severity from staff dealing with anti-social behaviour and shoplifting to low level happenings such as lost property and alarms warning that a freezer has lost power - a problem that could potentially result in the company “writing off thousands of pounds worth of stock.”

Massive growth

The Co-op Secure Response business was launched in 2014 as an internal unit looking after the East of England Co-op’s estate but over time it has picked up external clients. Today the ARC monitors around 5,000 cameras belonging to the East of England Co-op and the same number of cameras for other clients including Scotmid and Central England Co-operatives.

The centre also provides security for solar farms across the UK, which might get targeted by criminals looking to steal panels, cabling and other equipment. A number of farms and churches are also monitored.

“We’ve grown massively since 2014 - we sell trust essentially, so over that time we’ve built up our brand and reputation,” said Lee, who says that while turnover for 2017 was in the region of £300,00, already this year the business had generated £640,000 by the end of June.

Co-op Secure Response fleet    Picture: Anglia Picture AgencyCo-op Secure Response fleet Picture: Anglia Picture Agency

This success has led to the business recently rebranding - putting its name out there and hoping to become a nationally recognised name in its sector.


Unusually for a security business, the colour scheme chosen for the new branding was pink - it was intentional choice, aimed at reflecting Co-op Secure Response’s alternative approach to security based on a strategic use of technology and manpower, and a progressive approach to social issues.

Lee says the East of England Co-op doesn’t believe in having security guards stationed permanently at the door of a store. Instead, it operates a team of mobile retail support officers who travel where required and specialise in different issues be it anti-social behaviour, theft or security advice.

When it comes to shoplifting, the team are less interested in catching the on-off incidents and more focussed on building up an “offender package” including CCTV evidence, detailing multiple offences by one person.

“We are after the guys who are prolific and who do it for a living,” said Lee.

Some members of the retail support team are trained in offering counselling to Co-op staff who have been victims of anti-social behaviour that might have taken place on their shift.

Members of the team also sit on committees with police officers and councillors to look at how to cut down anti-social behaviour. This, Lee says, goes as a far as working with the police to ascertain whether the offenders require mental health care or other support.

“We don’t just ban people from our stores, we want to find out why there was a problem in the first place,” he added


With so many CCTV cameras to care for, staff in the ARC don’t monitor them during the day unless a panic alarm goes off while overnight images only come up on the screens of surveillance staff if sensors are triggered. If it looks like the person or persons is up to no good the team will call the police and offer descriptions of the offenders - hopefully giving the police a head start in getting to the premises before the criminals have made their getaway.

Time is crucial - Lee says a store burglary typically lasts three to four minutes during which time it is possible for burglars to make away with around £20,000 worth of goods. One product often targeted by criminals is cigarettes, so the team has developed a small tracking device that sits inside a cigarette packet and once activated sends out a signal every five seconds.

“We have a 95% success-rate,” added Lee with pride.

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

This summer, a Suffolk pub became the first in the UK to go cashless. But the Boot in Freston, isn’t the first company in the county to do away with cash - several other local business people are finding that more and more, its card - not cash - that’s king.

As the fourth industrial revolution commences and more and more jobs become replaced by machines, a tube driver from Essex, Daniel Rees, decided it was time to reskill now, in the belief that his own job will soon become obsolete.

The first Starbucks drive-thru has opened in Colchester, creating 25 new jobs.

Homebrewers are getting the chance to brew up a winning beer with Ipswich-based Briarbank microbrewery.

Father Christmas might not be able to visit his garden centre grotto in Clacton this Christmas, because the centre has been told to stop trading.

Management Jobs

Show Job Lists

Most read

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24